I’ve been admiring the amount of outdoor activity available to people who live in the Bay Area since I got here. There’s just so much to do. You can live in San Francisco and be at the beach or in the mountains within an hour’s drive. I’d been hoping to get to do some of the cool things that would make my stay here a bit different than that of a regular tourist. Little did I know I would be getting it all in a single weekend.

Friday

The Yahoo! Maps & Local Team had an offsite on Friday. We went surfing. Yes, surfing. And not the kind you do in front of your computer…

Now those of you who know me know that I am not a huge fan of the beach and I really really dislike the ocean. So why in the world would I go surfing?! Well, I figured, hey, I’m here in California, I have the opportunity to try something I would probably never try on my own, and if it’s that bad, I can just get out of the water and take pictures. Sure. Great logic. It’s what I kept telling myself. By constantly trying to convince myself that there were no fish, sharks, or other life in the water, I managed to psych myself out enough to get into the ocean.

It turns out that it was actually a LOT of fun. The water was pretty darn cold. We wore full wetsuits and looked like a bunch of fools on giant surfboards. They gave me an 11′ board. Now, I’m just over 5′ tall. Do the math. The thing was HUGE. So we went through the usual practice on the beach that you see in the movies, Surfing (on the sand...)and then it was time to dive in. It felt like we walked a mile! THEN, when we finally reached the water, we had to swim out just about the same distance we had just walked! I was DEAD already! Did I mention that the board was also very wide? Well it was. Making it nearly impossible to carry. I probably ended up damaging the fins on 2 boards because that was the only place I could get a decent grip.

We had a few instructors with us to make sure we didn’t, oh, die or anything. They basically acted as training wheels and gave our boards a little push when we hit the wave. I managed to get one good ride in and then a few random half-standing rides. A LOT of fun. I also managed to swallow a good portion of the Pacific Ocean in one particular fall. That was tasty.

My manager happened to have a waterproof digital camera (convenient, eh?). As we’re sitting out in the water waiting for the next set of waves, he yells over “Jenn! Smile!” so I do, and give him a thumbs up. I took my thumbs down before he snapped the shot, so he wanted a do-over. Evidently, putting your thumbs up is a great way to throw yourself off balance, because the picture he got was of a giant splash as I fell backwards off of the board and into the water. So graceful.

Speaking of graceful, I also managed to run some people over. As I was gearing up for one of my half-standing rides, I managed to surf right over some people recovering from their last wave. I mean RIGHT over them. Well, it could have been their boards if they managed to duck and cover in time, but I can’t really be sure. Word to the wise: if you’re out surfing in a crowd of beginners, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!

Train TracksOne great thing about the spot we were surfing in (I’m not sure if this is true for other parts of the Pacific) was that there is barely any sand floating in the water! Quite a relief from the sandy Atlantic! A few hours and a lot of laughs later, we made our way back to shore. We stopped off for lunch, then headed home. Jane and I stopped off at some random remote beaches along the route back I mean REMOTE. Like, stop off on the side of the road, follow a hidden trail, cross some train tracks, and walk some more. The views were spectactular though! I also got some great shots of kite surfers. It really felt like California.

Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.

And then came Saturday

Mark & Jane on the TrailSaturday morning I decided to go back to sleep after waking up pretty early in the morning. Then my phone rang. It was Jane again,

“Oh, did I wake you? I thought you got up early? Do you want to go hiking?”

Me: “umm…”

For some background: Jane is one of my coworkers. Hard core outdoorsy type. Goes rock climbing for kicks. Probably wrangles bears in the wilderness with her bare hands.

Jane: “Come on, get dressed.”

Me: “uhhh…You’re not going to make me climb a mountain, are you?”

Jane: “No! They’re just kind of rolling hills. We’ll pick you up at 11:30!”

Me: “umm…OK? See ya?”

So we went hiking. I mean HIKING. Mountains…and trails no wider than the width of your foot…and sun…and just wow. It was really nice being out in nature, but I would have been perfectly satisfied just hanging out at the first overlook we reached.

The LakeWe planned to hike out to this lake, and then decide from there whether or not we wanted to continue on to a waterfall that fed into the ocean. We walked, and walked, and walked, and, well, you get the picture. We finally came to this tiny little path that we thought went to the lake. Jane thought the plants on the side of it were poison oak, so we decided to spare ourselves the risk and move on to the waterfall. So we walked some more.

On our way to the waterfall, we passed by some people who had the right idea. They were doing the hike on horseback. Smart folks. Except for the one that nearly let her horse lick me. That wasn’t cool. Neither was having to dodge the giant piles of horse poo for the rest of our walk. Once we could see the ocean again, we decided to ask some people headed back in the other direction if we were close to the waterfall. They didn’t think so, so we turned around and headed back.

We passed by this other tiny little trail that was hidden in the trees. It was another trail to the lake. This one was poison oak-free, but very overgrown. We finally get to the trail leading directly to the water’s edge. The trail was about 6 inches wide, muddy, and very VERY steep. To make matters worse, there were people trying to walk in both directions, so you had to do that awkward kind of stand next to each other and then walk in a circle until you’ve switched positions kind of thing. Not to mention, the people walking back from the lake were, of course, WET!

FINALLY Shoes, post hike #2we arrived at the water’s edge. Quite literally the edge. There was about a 6′ space of dirt carved out of the trees to stand on. There were already about 5 people there. So Mark decides he wants to go for a swim. Jane and I find a spot in the dirt and plop down for a rest. I had just settled down when this cute little dog comes walking by, following by its walker. It was adorable! I was so engrossed at watching the little guy that when this massive thing walked by me and brushed against my leg, I nearly jumped out of my skin. It was another dog. But not JUST another dog. It was a MASSIVE dog. A horse really. (If you know what a large weimeraner looks like… there ya go). Not far behind was yet ANOTHER weimeraner. Did I mention we were in a space that was no bigger than my cubicle? And there were already 8 people there?

Long story short (because this is getting to be a VERY long story): the little cute cottonball dog shook on me after getting out of the water, covered in mud. A lady in her 40s or 50s changed into her bathing suit in front of everyone. I’m sure there were a lot more, but my memories of that day is slowly making its way out of my brain. 6 or so miles, and about 4 hours later we made it back to the car. I didn’t think I was going to make it.

Sunday, needless to say, was spent lounging on the couch and watching movies. :)